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Flexibly Fair Representation Learning by Disentanglement

Elliot Creager
David Madras
Jorn Jacobsen
Marissa Weis
Toniann Pitassi
Richard Zemel
ICML (2019) (to appear)
Google Scholar


We consider the problem of learning representations that achieve group and subgroup fairness with respect to multiple sensitive attributes. Taking inspiration from the disentangled representation learning literature, we propose an algorithm for learning compact representations of datasets that are useful for reconstruction and prediction, but are also \emph{flexibly fair}, meaning they can be easily modified at test time to achieve subgroup demographic parity with respect to multiple sensitive attributes and their conjunctions. We show empirically that the resulting encoder---which does not require the sensitive attributes for inference---allows for the adaptation of a single representation to a variety of fair classification tasks with new target labels and subgroup definitions.